Must-see: 6 Disney-destinations in France


Le Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy
© shutterstock - Le Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 24 March 2023

Are you mad about Disney's cartoons and animation movies? In that case, you do not want to miss these six destinations in France!

We are not the only ones who are mad about France – they seem to feel the same way at Disney. The city of light is the scene of many of their very best cartoons – but Paris is not the only French destination, which inspired them. Do you know which Disney movies are inspired by France? Whether you are a child or an adult, it may be fun to visit some of the places you can recognize from your favourite films. Here are 6 of the best.

1. Tangled – Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy

It’s easy to see that Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy has been the inspiration to the castle of Rapunzel's parents in Tangled. The island and monastery are equally breathe taking in reality. It's almost a magic sight that meets you, when Mont Saint-Michel pops up in the horizon. The bay is known to have Europe's most powerful tide and together with the island and the monastery, it is acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

2. The hunchback of Notre Dame – Notre Dame cathedral, Paris

Perhaps you are having trouble recognizing Paris, because the movie takes place in the Middle Ages, but you cannot miss the world-famous gothic cathedral. Disney has made an amazingly accurate reproduction of Notre Dame, which is home to a very special hunchback according to the story by Victor Hugo. In fact, Disney has been so fond of the beautiful cathedral that they have even made some of it come alive; the many gargoyles that you can see up close if you visit the towers of Notre Dame, one of which serves as the home of Quasimodo in the story.

3. The Beauty and the Beast, the village – Alsace

With names like Belle, Le Fou, Gaston and Lumière, it's no secret that the Beauty and the Beast takes place in France. If you look into it, it's not hard to see that the Eastern region of Alsace with its many small rural towns with timber houses has been a huge inspiration for Disney.

According to Belle, the village is boring to live in – but for those of us who dream of a relaxing holiday, it’s a picturesque region to escape to. Why not visit Eguisheim, Kaysersberg or Turckheim.

4. The Beauty and the Beast, the castle of the Beast – Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley

When Disney's animators were designing the castle of the Beast, they were a little challenged – but on an inspiration tour, the animator Glen Keane and his team visited the Chateau de Chambord in Loire Valley: "It was an ominous, impressive place with all of these spires and just standing there before us. I mean I'll never forget the morning driving up there through the mist and fog and seeing it there. I thought; this is the Beast's castle. This is where he lives," he said to Screenrant.

With its 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces and 84 stairs, the castle is one of the largest in the Loire Valley. It is also one of the world's most recognizable castles because of the architecture, which is the special French Renaissance style.

5. The Aristocats – the roofs and beautiful homes of Paris

If you are a romantic who has sighed over Paris' beautiful roofs and boulevards, then Aristocats is the perfect cartoon. In this story you will get everything from beautiful Bourgeois homes to spartan rooms overlooking the night sky of Paris – and it is even set during "la Belle Époque".

The cartoon takes place in Paris in 1910 – and in fact, it is still possible to experience beautiful Bourgeois homes from that period. Stop by Musée Jacquemart-André, an art collector's private home which opened as a museum in 1913. While in Paris, you must also visit the rooftop terrace of the department store Printemps, home to one of the the most beautiful views of Paris’ rooftops up-close.

6. Ratatouille– the streets and sewer of Paris

If there is one thing the French know how to do, it’s cooking – and of course enjoying the meal afterwards. In fact, they are so good at it, that the French meal and the whole culture around it, is on UNESCO's list of Intangible world heritage.

This is exactly the focus of 2007’s Ratatouille, where the rat Remy, whose dream is to become a chef, gets lost in the sewer underneath Paris. In the film you will also see the rooftops of Paris, the banks of the Seine, the bridge Pont d'Arcole and a slightly creepy shop, which actually exists: the ratcatcher in Rue des Halles, founded in 1872 by the family who still owns it today.

If you want to experience same areas of Paris as Remy, go for a walk in the city - and do not forget the sewer! Near the Pont d'Alma-metro station you can get into the sewage system (it is indeed legal) and it is actually a quite exciting attraction.

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